After each game, we're going to highlight three defensive and three offensive players and look in detail at their performance. We'll wrap up today with the offense:
Wesley Johnson has had a rough season so far at center but he had his most effective game of the year yesterday. The Jets used a lot of effective double-teaming with Johnson doing a good job of keeping his man sealed off to create a lane up the middle and enable the guard to peel off to make another block.
Towards the ends of game, he played a key role in the Elijah McGuire run that iced the game. This time he blindsided Kyle Williams with some late double team help, effortlessly knocking him to the ground and then peeling off to make a good second level block:
Earlier on, there had been a play more symptomatic of Johnson's struggles this year as Josh McCown changed the play at the last minute and Johnson left Cedric Thornton completely unblocked for an easy sack. However, even that one worked out in the end because Thornton got flagged for grabbing McCown's facemask.
Johnson did allow a few runs to be stuffed by his man but did a good job of blocking in space and didn't give up any pressure in pass protection.
Overall, Johnson has still been struggling, but he's doing better over the last four games than he was prior to that.
Just Joshing With You
Josh McCown had another efficient performance this week but his job was made easier by the success the Jets had in the running game. He only had to throw seven passes in the second half.
McCown played his part in that though, often changing the play at the line. However, you wonder how many yards Elijah McGuire would have earned on this play, had McCown audibled to a draw play. This was the play where he was sacked but got the first down on a face mask penalty.
The game could have gone very differently if this potential interception wasn't dropped. Worryingly, this was a similar misread to the one he had on his late interception in Miami:
As you can see, Chad Hansen runs a whip route and his man drops off in front of the intended receiver Jermaine Kearse. McCown, who at least had the excuse of being under pressure in Miami, sees him too late again. He should have been able to read this and dump it to Hansen for a first down.
These route combinations are becoming more and more apparent as the season goes on and more film can be viewed. The plays are designed so that McCown has one option and if that's not open the next one should be - and then there will be a similar route combination on the other side. They mix and match the types of routes being combined. Let's review one:
On this play, the outside receivers, McGuire and Robby Anderson, both run short in-breaking routes while the slot receivers, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Chad Hansen run go routes. On the play, there's five wide and so there's another slot receiver, Jermaine Kearse, on the top side and he runs a deep crossing route.
The first thing McCown should be looking at is Hansen, who gets a clean outside release on Tre'Davious White and could be an option deep. With that not being there, McCown should look at Anderson or McGuire who can catch a short pass near the marker. The pass to McGuire is not without risk though because if the defensive players execute a successful pass off, that's a potential interception.
In the end McCown threw harmlessly incomplete over Kearse's head. Tony Romo suggested this was a communication breakdown but it also looked like Kearse slipped coming out of his break. As you can see, a throw to Anderson or McGuire probably would have worked and Hansen did seem to get a step over the top too with the only safety too far over to help out on that side:
You might recognize the route combination at the bottom of the screen from a later play where Forté was the outside receiver and McCown's pass was caught by Seferian-Jenkins, who then broke a tackle to make a nice gain. Replays indicated that McCown - who was hit as he threw - might actually have been targeting Forté and got lucky when the ball went right to Seferian-Jenkins.
McCowns's touchdown throw to Anderson was nice but he only completed one other throw more than 18 yards down the field - a long crosser to Jermaine Kearse.
McCown has been efficient but has ridden his luck in places and is operating John Morton's scheme well, but not perfectly. Maybe there's even more room for growth.
E.T. The Extra Terrible?
Eric Tomlinson found himself in a dual role yesterday, seeing a season-high number reps at both tight end and fullback. He made positive blocking contributions from both spots, as you can see:
On balance, Tomlinson actually had one of his poorer games in recent memory though. He had a really bad drop on a pass in the flat and several runs were blown up by his man. That included a play blown up in the backfield for a loss, a run that was bottled up after Jerry Hughes drove a double team from Tomlinson and Kelvin Beachum into the backfield and three plays early in the second half where his block was ineffective and the runner ran into him.
Tomlinson made one catch on a tough low pass in a crowd, but ultimately it was his blocking contributions that played a big role in the Jets victory, even though he had a bunch of negative plays too.
As Romo said during the broadcast, Tomlinson is one of a few tight ends who can hold his own on a defensive end. Even if he doesn't win that match-up every time, when you couple it with his ability to leak out for a chunk play from time to time this gives the Jets' offense a valuable dimension.
PREVIOUSLY: Three on D: Lee, Jenkins, Maye